“I focus on the rhythms of nature and what has been created here before humans arrived, that rhythm. And if we can hook into that rhythm and with gratitude see what a beautiful thing it is, then once we become grateful for the little things that nature provides us, this gratitude can lend itself to everything in someone’s life. And there are no more needs, wants and desires. Because things that are necessary come before desire arises and we call this serendipity, rock star parking. And really it is nature working and showing us that if we just live and work on being a good person with good moral values, and do good things, think positive thoughts and be grateful for everything we have in this particular moment, then all that is necessary will flow in the direction of the person with those kinds of thoughts. And creativity flows through when one stills the mind with meditation through yoga”. Janaki
Maya: What is the daily schedule at the different ashrams you visited, and how is yoga and daily life experienced differently within the ashram setting compared to outside of an ashram setting?
Janaki: The routine is the same everywhere. You wake up at 5.30am, meditation is at 6am, 8 am is asanas, and then 10am is brunch, 11am karma yoga, 12pm there are classes, 2pm philosophy class, 4pm more asanas, 6pm dinner, 8pm meditation. They are all facets of the total package of yoga. Teaching and living in an ashram you’re focused on how yoga can support your life. What’s left out of the equation is wondering where the food is, where you’re sleeping. Wondering if there is any income. Because all of this is taken care of. What happens from living in an ashram is your practice gets deeper automatically.
Living in an ashram the energy is incredibly high. So for instance if someone arrives at the ashram who tends to be fiery in nature and argumentative in nature, or a real go getter in nature, this will amplify in the ashram, because of the high energy. If someone is shy it will amplify in the ashram, because of the high energy. So if anyone is carrying traits that are unbecoming to a human this will amplify, and they end up living with these traits in a more pronounced way. There are teachers, many teachers out there in the ashram who can keep an eye on the yogis and counsel and guide them through any hiccups and challenges. So anybody coming to the ashram be it a teacher or staff member or visiting student or traveling yogi, whether they notice it or not their personality traits, what makes them individual, will amplify. And some will stay because they are intrigued by this, what they are witnessing of themselves. Others will fall because they are uncomfortable with what they see of themselves. So my personal practice, my whole practice, is amplified by the energy of the ashram. I have the time to do more practice because I don’t have to put any attention to the basics of my life because its looked after. And my spiritual side is supported by the monks and priests in the ashram. So the karma one receives comes in more intensely. Karmic experiences increase within the ashram, so someone can do the work. As a teacher I can do my personal work effortlessly because the karma is coming and coming and coming and the senior staff and directors are there to teach all the teachers a little bit about themselves. And so it’s a great symbiosis because we are teaching but we are also learning about all the divine knowledge, and we are working on ourselves. At times it can be so challenging that it is hard not to walk out the door. But if someone perseveres and stays and just keeps witnessing and just accepting this is the journey, and they are just a human being, being a human, their experience becomes golden.
Maya: What kind of personality traits did you personally experience encountering and addressing, and could you please describe the process of dealing with amplified aspects of yourself?
Janaki: There are two particular personality traits that can arise, that would be relevant for many people. There is a book by Caroline Myss called Sacred contracts. Caroline describes the many archetypes of personality traits that we carry, and discusses that some of it is our prarabdha karma that we bring with us this time. Our DVD that we bring with us that has what we are suppose to learn in this life. Caroline Myss describes all of these possible personality traits that have arisen from the prarabdha karma. People that are rebels in this ashram setting, they have been a rebel from a previous life. They have brought this lesson in from a previous life to learn not to be a rebel, because we want to learn to be a good person and these personality traits are things we need to clean up. So they’ll surely show the rebel personality when their buttons are being pushed in the ashram life, on the teacher level and student level. What is curious is what does that rebel do when challenged? If guided through by counseling and coaching they’ll see what they are carrying and learn to witness it, and once witnessed it the rebel will cease to exist, it will diminish. Another example is the victim personality. This is another good example of a personality that shows itself. We for instance at the ashram experience this whenever there is a teacher training. When it becomes too hard, too difficult to learn something. Even to be challenged to take a zip line up at Capilano, the rebel or the victim arises. Once one is challenged the idea is rather than playing out the drama of the victim or of rebel etc. the idea is to be taught how to witness ones personality. And once they’re being observed with the knowledge of yoga together with the observation then the cleansing begins and the rebel starts becoming diminished. It heals itself, the victim heals itself and the yogi becomes whole. Because those karmas that they bring are now being healed. The lesson has been learned and then the person becomes lighter. And as you might see in people who do the work their demeanor is light because they are not carrying the burden of these karmas. So the ashram setting with its high energies and the teachers and the program intensify one’s journey into seeing their true self. And what comes out at the other end is closer to true self. What we are all here for. Why we come here to this plane, is to find our true self and not the other selves that we have brought through from other lives, the other personalities we have had.
Maya: How did you get through the pain of all you were confronted with at the ashram?
Janaki: I did two things. I’d run to the deity temple and chant. Because I could have the most difficult and exhausting day and I would go in and chant with a group for 40 minutes. I could feel my whole day melting as I’m toning every cell by chanting. That vibration would vibrate every cell back to its peacefulness. I’m so grateful to have had that every night. And two, I would run to the library and pick one book off the shelf that was a teaching of senior swamis. I would randomly open it up and read what they were writing about, and low and behold there was the answer. And I’d sigh a big sigh, everything was okay. There was some magic happening there. In the outside world we call up a friend and listen to their voice. When we don’t have that in the ashram, you run to a book of teaching. Instead of doing a lateral connection, you’re doing a vertical connection up to a greater source to those who are always looking. They’re always looking and thinking will Janaki just call us and ask us to help her out, all she has to do is ask.
Maya: Did you make some profound connections with people, anyone or a few in particular who you’d like to discuss, that were key to your learning or teaching in some way?
Janaki: The one being I connected with at the ashram was in a temple to the divine mother and all female deities. That was what the temple was dedicated to. Every day the temple doors would open in the morning and they would address the divine mother. They worshiped her every morning and chanted every evening. In that place the energy was particularly high. So my biggest connection while I was away was with the female divine energy at the temple. I would go every day twice a day, and the communication that was there guided me every day. There was a real conversation going on. That’s one of the things I miss. It was also something I was attracted to in previous visits to this ashram but my evolution wasn’t at that level. I was attracted to it but did not spend more time. This time I vowed I’d spend more time, and learn the chant. This great long 40 minute chant we do. And by doing this I made a connection happen, and that was perfect, that was amazing, the conversation that was going on with the female divine energy, at the Devi temple.
Part 3 of Janaki’s interview to follow 🙂